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SMILE - SMall Innovative Launcher for Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SMILE (SMILE - SMall Innovative Launcher for Europe)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-12-31

With an expanding market for small satellites, the need for a dedicated launch service for small satellites has led to many initiatives, most of them outside Europe. To obtain independent access to space for small satellites, corresponding European technology is necessary. Andøya Space Centre (ASC) could serve as launch site for the new small launch systems, which is now launching sounding rockets. The project (SMILE) aims at designing a small launcher for up to 70 kg satellites and demonstrating the critical technologies by increasing the TRL levels of those technologies. Secondary goals to prove economic viability, write a business development roadmap and design the European-based launch facility.

The SMILE project has been successful in terms of cooperation and achieving the goals set at the start of the project. SMILE project experienced good cooperation and communications between the fourteen companies situated throughout Europe. A SMall Innovative Launcher for Europe is under development by several European organisations and will become operational in the next few years, taking advantage of the knowledge and technology developed in the SMILE project.
Regarding the business development, NLR, ISIS, and BoesAdvies worked on the small satellite market and the competitors. The business development includes a technology roadmap, the launch service organisation, and a financial plan. A cost-benefit analysis tool was developed, where an initial estimation for recurrent costs showed economic feasibility for an 80 kg launch capacity to a 500 km orbit.

In the launcher design work package (WP1), the requirements were defined by the Design Steering Group (DSG) consisting of NLR, NAMMO, and DLR. Several configurations were defined and analysed by the Concurrent Design Team (NLR, NAMMO, DLR, INCAS, Heron Engineering) using a multi-disciplinary scaling tool. INCAS developed a trajectory optimization tool assess the maximum possible payload mass. The final results predict a payload capacity of 70 kg to 600 km SSO for the hybrid launcher and 140 kg for the liquid launcher.

Regarding Critical Engine Technology, DLR worked on preliminary design of the propulsion components for a liquid engine using oxygen and kerosene. DLR manufactured two versions of the assemblies: one with a fully regenerative, water-cooled combustor and a second with a ceramic-based inner liner. 3D Systems provided injectors for the high-pressure testing condition via Additive Laser Manufacturing (ALM) technique. PLD Space has designed and build a test bench that is able to provide high-pressure conditions at the required mass flow rates. A test campaign was initiated with the fully integrated Ceramic set-up. The test consisted of three parts, Cold Flow test, Igniter test and hot firing.

NAMMO developed a design tool for extrapolating design parameters of the hybrid engine to aid the sizing of the launcher in WP1. NAMMO also worked on improving the existing Unitary Motor. The design of the motors has been refined by using carbon composite for the motor case. WEPA-Technologies designed the turbopumps based on a common set-up using a gas-generator to drive the turbine. A tool was made that calculates the pressure losses from the piping diagram.

Regarding WP3 Critical Structures Technology, NLR and Airborne performed an analysis to select the material and production process based on several parameters including cost. Two prototype assemblies were made by Airborne: a section demonstrator and the upper stage demonstrator.
Tecnalia performed study about Fairing Thermal Protection System (TPS). For the manufacturing process, a review of main specifications to design the fairing was done, including reviews of the processing technology selected to manufacture the fairing and the related equipment. Finally, hot testing performed in order to validate the thermal simulation for the sizing of the fairing TPS.
Heron Engineering used Finite Element Models to analyse load cases representing various flight phases of the launchers, including metal versus composites, monolithic versus honeycomb sandwich, common separation systems, engine thrust frames, and tanks. Furthermore models of the demonstrators (payload and engine adaptor, outer shell) were made and analysis performed. The strength of the structures under buckling and static condition and various criteria for the composite sandwich part were verified.
ISIS designed and manufactured a prototype for a MicroSatellite Separation System (M3S), which has a standard mechanical interface, is low cost and safe to use. The design is based on three clamp points with identical Hold Down and Release Mechanisms (HDRM) and a centralized actuator.

In WP4 Critical Avionics Technology, NLR, Terma, and DLR MoRaBa listed the required functionality and available COTS systems and components, such as gyroscopes and on-board computers. Besides the architecture, a failure analysis for the avionics was performed and the conceptual EGSE design was defined.
Terma and NLR have developed a 6DOF launch simulator and implemented a real-time operating system. The demonstrator was to assess the feasibility to use COTS components. It was also used to test the launcher control algorithms from launch to orbit.
NLR developed an avionics box consisting of a Sensor MEMS IMU and a Septentrio GNSS receiver, which was launched with the Stratos III by DARE. Unfortunately the launch failed. The telemetry data could not be used to gain knowledge on the IMU / GNSS behaviour.

In WP5 Ground Segment Conceptual Design, ASC generated the Strategic Roadmap document providing among others the current state and dynamics of the evolving commercial launch market. Furthermore, ASC identified the requirements for the interfaces between the vehicle and the launch site, provided information on the launch site capabilities, internal & external infrastructures, and climate.
ASC has chosen a new orbital launch site and performed preliminary ground safety calculations to verify that the closest inhabited area is beyond the safety perimeter and other required facilities are available. Integration will be performed horizontally to ensure a safe and cost-effective operation.

A selection of SMILE related papers, presentations and articles is available on
The targeted technology readiness levels have been achieved. This concerns the engines including turbo-pumps and 3D printing, automated manufacturing methods (ATL, AFP, ALM) for structural parts, and advanced avionics. Tools such as simulators and test facilities, were developed as well as structural prototypes for demonstration purposes. Developed engine technology has successfully been tested.
The existence of such European small launcher technology is needed to achieve independent access to space for small satellites. SMILE partners have demonstrated their capabilities to achieve this goal.
With Europe being able to offer cost-effective small launcher services, a significant growth of the European space industry can be expected, providing an opportunity for further international co-operation between companies, research establishments, and SMEs. Other benefits for society include an increased interest of the public in engineering and science sectors, leading to additional educational opportunities.